astronomy-to-zoology

astronomy-to-zoology:

Snow Petrel (Padogroma nivea)

…a species of fulmarine petrel which breeds exclusively in the Antarctica peninsula and various Antarctic islands. Like some other petrels snow petrels will bred in small or large colonies on cliffs near the sea. Nests usually consist of pebble-lined scrapes, and typically only one egg is laid between November and December. Adult snow petrels will feed out at sea on fish, cephalopods, krill, molluscs, and occasionally carrion. 

Classification

Animalia-Chordata-Aves-Procellariiformes-Procellariidae-Padogroma-P. nivea

Images: Samuel Blanc and Brocken Inaglory

griseus

griseus:

Recently a new species of tardigrade has been found on the Antarctic coast. Mopsechiniscus franciscae is a water bear. These microscopic animals can survive nearly any condition, including a vacuum, because of their ability to enter a deep resting state when water is not available. The new species was collected among moss growing on gravel during a 2011 survey of tardigrades along the coast of Victoria Land, which borders the Ross Sea.

Tardigrades belong to a cosmopolitan phylum that can be found in almost all environments. The capacity of tardigrades to enter ametabolic resting stages when the water necessary for active life is unavailable (due to evaporation or freezing) has allowed species to colonise continental Antarctica despite the extreme environmental conditions found in the terrestrial and freshwater environments. Tardigrades are important members of Antarctic biota in terms of distribution, abundance, and colonised substrates.

The Fish That Could Save Antarctica 
As long as we save it first 
by Susan Moran
A primeval predator patrols the dark, icy waters of Antarctica’s Ross Sea, antifreeze proteins coursing through its blood. An icon of the Southern Ocean, the Antarctic toothfish is a crucial link in the rich food web of the planet’s most pristine marine ecosystem. Since 1996, it has also become prized by fisheries, which call its meat “white gold.”
In the 2011–12 season, 15 ships from six nations pulled roughly 3,500 metric tons of Antarctic toothfish from the Ross Sea. (Eight nations have vessels registered to fish there.) More than half the catch ends up in the U.S., where it’s sold (along with Pata-gonian toothfish) as the more palatably named Chilean sea bass for upwards of $25 a pound. Toothfish grow only about one centimeter per year, so scientists fear the species can’t withstand the pressure…
(read more: Popular Science)
photograph by Rob Robbins/USAP

The Fish That Could Save Antarctica 

As long as we save it first

by Susan Moran

A primeval predator patrols the dark, icy waters of Antarctica’s Ross Sea, antifreeze proteins coursing through its blood. An icon of the Southern Ocean, the Antarctic toothfish is a crucial link in the rich food web of the planet’s most pristine marine ecosystem. Since 1996, it has also become prized by fisheries, which call its meat “white gold.”

In the 2011–12 season, 15 ships from six nations pulled roughly 3,500 metric tons of Antarctic toothfish from the Ross Sea. (Eight nations have vessels registered to fish there.) More than half the catch ends up in the U.S., where it’s sold (along with Pata-gonian toothfish) as the more palatably named Chilean sea bass for upwards of $25 a pound. Toothfish grow only about one centimeter per year, so scientists fear the species can’t withstand the pressure…

(read more: Popular Science)

photograph by Rob Robbins/USAP

World’s Longest Migration Found to be Twice as Long as Originally Thought

by Mason Inman

The tiny arctic tern makes the longest migration of any animal in the world, flying about two times farther than previously thought, a new study says.

New miniature transmitters recently revealed that the 4-oz (113-g) bird follows zigzagging routes between Greenland and Antarctica each year. In the process, the arctic tern racks up about 44,000 frequent flier miles (71,000 km)—edging out its archrival, the sooty shearwater, by roughly 4,000 mi (6,440 km).

"There have been all kinds of theories, but now, for the first time, we’ve been able to show what the birds are doing out there," said the lead author of the study, Carsten Egevang of the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources.

Since the birds often live 30 years or more, the researchers estimate that, over its lifetime, an arctic tern migrates about 1.5 million miles (2.4 million km)—equal to three trips to the moon and back…

(read more: National Geographic)

photograph and maps by Carsten Egevang

Antarctica seen naked for the first time! 
What’s under all that ice?
by Michael Graham Richard
Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey, along with collaborators from around the world, have created the most detailed map yet of what is hidden under Antarctica’s ice sheets. Using radio echo sounding measurements, seismic techniques, satellite readings and cartographic data, they have created the details composite views that you can see above and below, revealing previously hidden mountain ranges, plains, and valleys cut by deep gorges…
(read more: TreeHugger)
image: British Antarctic Survey

Antarctica seen naked for the first time!

What’s under all that ice?

by Michael Graham Richard

Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey, along with collaborators from around the world, have created the most detailed map yet of what is hidden under Antarctica’s ice sheets. Using radio echo sounding measurements, seismic techniques, satellite readings and cartographic data, they have created the details composite views that you can see above and below, revealing previously hidden mountain ranges, plains, and valleys cut by deep gorges…

(read more: TreeHugger)

image: British Antarctic Survey

Emperor Penguins Closer to Endangered Species Act Protection

Icons of Wild Antarctica Are Threatened by Climate Change

media release by CBC

In response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the emperor penguin may warrant Endangered Species Act protection based on threats from climate change. The most ice-dependent of all penguin species, emperor penguins are threatened by the loss of their sea-ice habitat and declining food availability off Antarctica.

“Our carbon pollution is melting the sea-ice habitat emperor penguins need to survive,” said Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center. “Emperor penguins are the icons of wild Antarctica, and they need rapid cuts in carbon pollution and Endangered Species Act protections if they’re going to have a future.”

Emperor penguins rely on sea ice for raising their chicks and foraging. In parts of Antarctica where sea ice is rapidly disappearing, emperor penguins populations are declining or have been lost entirely. The emperor penguin colony featured in the film March of the Penguins has declined by more than 50 percent, and the Dion Island colony in the Antarctic Peninsula has disappeared. One recent study projected that nearly half of the world’s emperor penguins may disappear by mid-century without drastic cuts in carbon pollution…

(read more: Center for Biological Diversity)

More Creatures Discovered in the Deep Sea of the Antarctic

by Liz Langley

A sea snail feeding off a dead octopus’ beak is among the 30 new species found during an expedition to Antarctica‘s Amundsen Sea (map), according to the first study to shed light on the sea’s bottom dwellers.

The newfound sea snail, or limpet, is from a group that specializes in feeding on the decaying beaks of squid, octopi, and their relatives, according to study leader Katrin Linse of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

Linse and a team of marine biologists from BAS and other institutions hauled up 5,469 specimens belonging to 275 species from the depths of the little-explored sea of the Southern Ocean during a 2008 research cruise.

That year, scientists on the RSS James Clark Ross took advantage of the thin summer ice to get close to the edge of the ice shelf and bring up the thousands of specimens, including some newly discovered in Antarctic waters. At least 10 percent of all the species collected are new to science, and the figure is likely to rise, Linse said.

It’s taken a global team years to identify and categorize only a small fraction of the species, which are described October 1 in the journal Continental Shelf Research

(read more: National Geo)

photos by British Antarctic Survey - A young king crab, Neolithodes yaldwyni, Common Heart Urchin, Antarctic octopus, Pareledone turqueti, Bristle Cage Worm

Bird Note:  South Polar Skuas - Bullies of the Oceans
The bird world has its bullies, too.
with Tom Johnson
Meet the South Polar Skua, a big, bad bully of the bird world. During summer in Antarctica, South Polar Skuas feed their young with the chicks of other seabirds. And once their breeding season ends, the skuas fly to northern oceans, such as the North Atlantic, to find large flocks of shearwaters, gulls, or terns – then they steal the food that their fellow seabirds worked so hard to catch!
(listen to the latest BirdNote here)
photograph: © Justine Carson

Bird Note:  South Polar Skuas - Bullies of the Oceans

The bird world has its bullies, too.

with Tom Johnson

Meet the South Polar Skua, a big, bad bully of the bird world. During summer in Antarctica, South Polar Skuas feed their young with the chicks of other seabirds. And once their breeding season ends, the skuas fly to northern oceans, such as the North Atlantic, to find large flocks of shearwaters, gulls, or terns – then they steal the food that their fellow seabirds worked so hard to catch!

(listen to the latest BirdNote here)

photograph: © Justine Carson

Presenting the Antarctic Icefish
… among the very coolest of the fishes. You might say they have icewater in their veins. That would be inaccurate, though. 
The antifreeze compounds in their blood prevent it from icing up. One thing they don’t seem to need in it, though: haemoglobin. It probably helps that there’s so much oxygen dissolved in the near-freezing water of the Southern Ocean- nearly twice as much as in the tropics. 
They did need a few other tools, though, to dispense with the oxygen-binding protein. They have a larger volume of blood then you’d expect for their size, and a larger heart. Also, more blood vessels in their gills than you see in other fishes. Read more: Encyclopedia of LifePhoto: Stefano Schiaparell via the Programma Nazionale di Ricerche in Antartide

Presenting the Antarctic Icefish

… among the very coolest of the fishes. You might say they have icewater in their veins. That would be inaccurate, though.

The antifreeze compounds in their blood prevent it from icing up. One thing they don’t seem to need in it, though: haemoglobin. It probably helps that there’s so much oxygen dissolved in the near-freezing water of the Southern Ocean- nearly twice as much as in the tropics.

They did need a few other tools, though, to dispense with the oxygen-binding protein. They have a larger volume of blood then you’d expect for their size, and a larger heart. Also, more blood vessels in their gills than you see in other fishes.

Read more: Encyclopedia of Life

Photo: Stefano Schiaparell via the Programma Nazionale di Ricerche in Antartide

IF ALL THE ICE MELTED
Explore the world’s new coastlines if sea level rises 216 feet…
The maps here show the world as it is now, with only one difference: All the ice on land has melted and drained into the sea, raising it 216 feet and creating new shorelines for our continents and inland seas.
There are more than five million cubic miles of ice on Earth, and some scientists say it would take more than 5,000 years to melt it all. If we continue adding carbon to the atmosphere, we’ll very likely create an ice-free planet, with an average temperature of perhaps 80 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the current 58…
(go here to see more: National Geo)

IF ALL THE ICE MELTED

Explore the world’s new coastlines if sea level rises 216 feet…

The maps here show the world as it is now, with only one difference: All the ice on land has melted and drained into the sea, raising it 216 feet and creating new shorelines for our continents and inland seas.

There are more than five million cubic miles of ice on Earth, and some scientists say it would take more than 5,000 years to melt it all. If we continue adding carbon to the atmosphere, we’ll very likely create an ice-free planet, with an average temperature of perhaps 80 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the current 58…

(go here to see more: National Geo)